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Failing grades == academic misconduct: true or false?
January 29, 2013 2:57 PM   Subscribe

My friend is applying to university after dropping out of a different school a few years ago. At his previous school he was placed on academic suspension for a semester due to absenteeism and low grades. The Common App he's now filling out asks if he's ever been disciplined for academic misconduct. Does this qualify? Should he answer yes or no? More details below, including the exact wording of the question:

"Have you ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any educational institution you have attended from the 9th grade (or the international equivalent) forward, whether related to academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in a disciplinary action? These actions could include, but are not limited to: probation, suspension, removal, dismissal, or expulsion from the institution."

He was depressed, sleeping 18 hours a day and not attending classes. Under the terms of his suspension, he says he was required to go to a community college to demonstrate better grades before he would be allowed to go back. I think he did the community college but decided not to go back to school the next semester.

Personally, I'd think academic misconduct meant something like plagiarism or cheating on a test, not failing classes. But he did get one of the disciplinary actions explicitly listed in the question. What's the correct answer?
posted by henuani to Education (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm with you, misconduct is willfull, academic probation is more "get your shit together, son."

I'd answer that question, "no."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:59 PM on January 29, 2013


Forgot to add: It's a yes/no question, and you're supposed to upload an additional document if the answer is yes.
posted by henuani at 3:01 PM on January 29, 2013


He had a medical issue. Academic misconduct is something else.
posted by entropone at 3:03 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd worry that absenteeism may fall under "behavioral misconduct" and in his case it did result in suspension. Is there someone he could contact at the university to clarify? Likely, he could ask without identifying himself, if he's worried about it going onto his record by asking about it.
posted by duien at 3:04 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could he ring the admissions department anonymously with a similar but non identifying background story and ask?
posted by humph at 3:04 PM on January 29, 2013


Give a call to the admissions department. He doesn't have to give his name so he isn't in danger of divulging information he doesn't need to.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:04 PM on January 29, 2013


Academic misconduct = cheating. Not going to class is just...not going to class, same with the failing. So, "no" is the answer he's looking for.

Probation for low grades is disciplinary, but more in the sense of "prove to us that you want to be here and you can handle it" rather than "we're punishing you for this rule you broke."
posted by orange (sherbet) rabbit at 3:05 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


I would focus not on "academic misconduct" (which in the syntax of the question seems to be meant more as an example than an exclusive definition of the information they're looking for) but on "disciplinary violation." If he violated something--the school's rules or code of conduct, for example--leading to the suspension, I would say that he should answer yes.
posted by payoto at 3:07 PM on January 29, 2013


I would think that "academic misconduct" is things like plagiarism.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:10 PM on January 29, 2013


In my university, "academic misconduct" = "cheating". What you describe doesn't seem to be that at all.
posted by Scientist at 3:11 PM on January 29, 2013


The application asks about "probation, suspension, removal, dismissal, or expulsion from the institution". He was suspended. His old university didn't suspend him for fun; there was a reason.

I think your friend should answer yes and disclose the academic suspension. The new university is going to see it anyway when it gets his records from the past institution. Failing to disclose at the outset is going to come back to bite him. What is he going to say then? "Oh, I thought there were different types of suspension"?
posted by Tanizaki at 3:11 PM on January 29, 2013


Agree with the above. They want to know about cheating, plagiarism, test stealing, and the like. This situation doesn't apply.
posted by phunniemee at 3:11 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Academic misconduct has a very specific meaning. Failing out isn't one of them. Your friend should answer no.
posted by sid at 3:14 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Academic misconduct means some sort of violation of the school's Code of Academic Integrity, or associated document. This includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism and cheating.

Probation for poor performance is not a violation of this sort.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:20 PM on January 29, 2013


It's asking about a suspension resulting from a disciplinary violation. Not just any suspension, but that specific type. So unless he met with a disciplinary committee when he was suspended, I'd answer "no".
posted by sbutler at 3:20 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nthing everyone else. This was not misconduct.

I was let go from a job once for absenteeism (calling in sick) and they called it "workplace misconduct" when I applied for unemployment. They lost their case and I got unemployment because it was not misconduct, by definition.
posted by tacodave at 3:22 PM on January 29, 2013


I am a university faculty member who has served on a committee involved in suspending students for flunking all their courses. It is not academic misconduct or any other kind of disciplinary action. Your friend should answer "no."
posted by escabeche at 3:46 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Probation and disqualification in the question refer to probation and/or disqualification as disciplinary sanctions specifically for "academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in a disciplinary action."

That is distinct from probation or disqualification for poor grades. Your friend should answer no.
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:59 PM on January 29, 2013


Personally, I'd think academic misconduct meant something like plagiarism or cheating on a test, not failing classes. But he did get one of the disciplinary actions explicitly listed in the question. What's the correct answer?

Even though your friend did get one of the listed disciplinary actions, it WAS NOT for academic misconduct. That is a specific term for things like plagiarism and cheating on tests/assignments, and that is what they are asking about, not absenteeism and flunking out.

Your friend's answer is "no".
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:11 PM on January 29, 2013


I'm going to go way against the grain on this one. I would strongly suggest that your friend check with the school about this -- somewhere on their website they will say what "academic misconduct" is at that particular institution. At two of the schools I attended, one of which I instructed at, academic misconduct explicitly included excessive absenteeism. So at either of those institutions, your friend would answer yes.

To go further, my high school boyfriend went through a similar thing -- depressed, skipping class, academic suspension, then termination... he ended up re-applying to admission at the same school, and answering "yes" to that question on the app. He was asked to submit, in writing, what steps he had taken towards ensuring that this wouldn't happen again, and he was accepted. So it may not be an instant red flag, which is understandably also a concern I imagine.
posted by sm1tten at 4:25 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The university's honor code/code of conduct is probably available online. I found my undergrad university's easily by Googling "academic misconduct [institution name]" and it pretty clearly defines what they mean. This page was the second result.
posted by apricot at 4:56 PM on January 29, 2013


I agree that your friend can answer no in good faith, but this is also something that you should be able to look up easily, as others have suggested. Most universities have an "Office of Student Conduct" or something similar. Plenty of students don't make the grades to stay in school, but academic misconduct is when you violate the academic integrity code (by plagiarizing, cheating on exams, etc.). Your friend didn't break any university rules--he didn't attend class, which resulted in him failing, which resulted in him being put on suspension. If your friend had not attended class but managed to get a passing grade, I doubt there would have been any consequences. At least that's how I read things.
posted by kochenta at 5:59 PM on January 29, 2013


Just call the admissions office to clarify. They can give an easy, quick, and clear answer without making a judgement call on the application (those answering phone calls might be different from those who decide on admissions anyway).

I know people who work in admissions and when people lie on their applications they can be kicked out of school, even if they already enrolled. It doesn't matter what the phrase "academic misconduct" means to us personally. Especially when it explicitly states that this university's version of "academic misconduct" includes but "are not limited to: probation, suspension, removal, dismissal, or expulsion from the institution." This friend was under academic suspension, no? Sounds like academic suspension = suspension = academic misconduct. But call and find out.
posted by RabbleRabble at 6:08 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


My sense of this, having been around academia a long time, is that being kicked out for missing or flunking classes is definitely not academic misconduct, and your friend should answer no.

Your friend should probably also be writing something that goes along with this application detailing how they had a medical issue/depression and missed a lot of class, were kicked out as a result, and now they've addressed the issue/gotten their act together and the same problem won't happen again. That will explain the grades and there will be no question of whether friend tried to hide something.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:23 PM on January 29, 2013


In reply to some of the good suggestions to talk to an admissions person:

It sounds like this person is filling out a "Common Application" which goes to a lot of different schools, which means it's not clear which admissions office to call and ask. If there are really only a few schools they're applying to, talk to the admissions offices and tell them about the situation and ask how much explanation they would like about the situation at the previous school. Your friend should not be embarrassed - it is very common for students to have trouble of this kind and need to take time off, so I guarantee this is something they've seen before in other applications.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:27 PM on January 29, 2013


This friend was under academic suspension, no? Sounds like academic suspension = suspension = academic misconduct.

Absolutely not. Academic probation for poor performance and suspension following it is one thing, and is asked about by name. It is not disciplinary. Academic misconduct means cheating and the like. Suspension is just a sanction, you can be suspended for academic issues--performance or misconduct--or non-academic issues, such as behavior or health. This question is asking about DISCIPLINE for MISCONDUCT, be it academic or behavioral.

I don't think there's any need to call anyone, especially not target schools. If I'd ask anyone anything, it would be to ask the graduating school how they'd report it if asked to clarify by a target school. Schools may require a separate statement to address probation or performance issues, but it doesn't raise the same red flags that misconduct does.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:39 PM on January 29, 2013


The answer is clearly no. Academic suspensions for non-attendance are totally different from disciplinary actions for academic misconduct such as plagiarism.
posted by Dasein at 9:01 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


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